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People in east look Chinese, south like Africa: Sam Pitroda

Last updated on: May 08, 2024 15:22 IST

Congress leader Sam Pitroda triggered another controversy on Wednesday with his "people of the east look like the Chinese and those of the south look like Africa" remarks, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party latching on to his "racist" comments and claiming that those have exposed the opposition party's "divisive" politics.

IMAGE: Sam Pitroda, Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress. Photograph: @sampitroda/X

The Congress, however, distanced itself from Pitroda's remarks, describing those as unfortunate and unacceptable, and saying the party "completely dissociates" itself from the comments.

In a podcast, Pitroda, the head of the Indian Overseas Congress, said, "We have survived 75 years in a very happy environment where people could live together, leaving aside a few fights here and there."

"We could hold the country as diverse as India together. Where people in the east look like the Chinese, people in the west look like the Arabs, people in the north look like, maybe, white and people in the south look like Africans. It does not matter. All of us are brothers and sisters. We respect different languages, different religions, different customs, different food," Pitroda said in the interview that was widely circulated on social media.


Dissociating itself from Pitroda's remarks, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on X: "The analogies drawn by Mr Sam Pitroda in a podcast to illustrate India's diversity are most unfortunate and unacceptable. The Indian National Congress completely dissociates itself from these analogies."

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, latched on to Pitroda's remarks to hit out at the Congress and said the opposition party is getting increasingly unmasked as the Lok Sabha polls progress.

It claimed that Pitroda's "racist" comments have betrayed the Congress's bid to divide the country on the lines of race, religion and caste.

BJP leaders Rajeev Chandrasekhar and Sudhanshu Trivedi claimed that Pitroda has highlighted the idea of India that Congress bigwigs, such as Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, believe in.

Pitroda has been a "mentor" to Rahul Gandhi, who has often run down the Indian democracy and the country's institutions during his foreign trips, Chandrasekhar said.

Trivedi said the ongoing Lok Sabha polls have now become a battle between those under the influence of a foreign mindset in their definition of India and an India that is "aatmanirbhar" (self-reliant) and brimming with self-pride.

"Sam, Pity-roda on you!" Union minister Anurag Thakur said on X.

"While for us, all Indians look like Indians, the Congress insists on categorising them based on foreign ethnic lines such as Chinese, Arab, White and African. Only a party with a colonial mindset like Congress could indulge in such deplorable racism.

"Having failed to stir division between the north and the south, Congress now seems intent on sowing ethnic discord. It's only a matter of time before the Shehzada, following in the footsteps of his mentor, champions this divisive strategy," Thakur said.

In the podcast interview to a media house, Pitroda said, "As a Gujarati, I love dosa, I love idli. That is my food, that is no longer south Indian food. That is the India I believe in, where everybody has a place and everybody compromises a little bit.... That idea of India, which is rooted in democracy, freedom, liberty, fraternity, is being challenged by the Ram temple and Ram Navami and the prime minister going to temples all the time and talking not as a national leader, but as a leader of the BJP."

"That view centres around the Ram temple, god, history, heritage, Bhagwan Hanuman, Bajrang Dal and all kinds of issues. I respect their view," he added.

"There is another group which says our founding fathers fought against the British Raj not for a Hindu Rashtra, but for a secular nation. Pakistan decided to create a nation based on religion and see what happened to them. We are a shining example of democracy in the world," Pitroda said.

Earlier, the Congress leader had stirred up a controversy by talking about the inheritance tax, which the BJP turned into a poll issue.

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